Sitting on the East Coast, Whakatane often boasts the highest number of sunshine hours of any other location in New Zealand and combined with its golden sand beaches (around 56km of them!) its a haven for beachgoers and surfers. It also claims to have one of the oldest Pa Sites (Maori fortification) in the country with dates estimated as far back as 1150 making this area a significant landmark in New Zealand's history.
One of the region's most unique attractions is White Island, one of the world's few accessible active volcanoes and is clearly visible from the mainland. This continuously active volcano, where sulphur-lipped fumaroles and roaring steam vents create a stark wonderland amidst the mud and ash-soaked crater, which almost bisects White Island. The acid lake in the island's depths offers an unforgettable insight into nature's primal creativity.
Other activities in the region range from deep sea fishing, kayaking, dolphin and whale viewing, mountain biking plus within the town are some great museums. Art also features with local creative trails available for visitors to follow.
Distinctively different from the conventional ‘hāngi and show’, Know Mataatua has been custom-tailored for visitors who would rather live the culture, than have it performed to them.
In the sacred setting of the house that came home, you are introduced to the history, the customs, the culture and the Māori people of Mataatua. In the house of the greatest ancestors, you are invited to participate in a range of ancient rituals and important customary practices that define the Ngāti Awa Māori tribe of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Discover, become familiar with and participate in genuine Māori culture in a warm and welcoming environment, guided every step of the way by your Pou Arahi, who will make sure you understand enough to experience the magic and significance of each moment. Following a guided tour and interactive cultural workshops, the experience in Mataatua Wharenui concludes with Hiko: Legends Carved in Light, before you are invited to into the wharekai (dining hall) for a sumptuous feast, comprising a selection of local delicacies and indigenous cuisine.
Poroporoaki (ritual of farewell) is the final act of the experience, where you are presented with a small tāonga (gift) in acknowledgement of the honour you have bestowed on the tribe by travelling great distances to visit their sacred house.
Moutohorā/Whale Island is a pest-free oasis that is home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles. The fully guided tour of the island allows visitors to learn about the flora and fauna and the conservation effort focused on Moutohorā for the past 50 years. The island is a bird lover's paradise, with the opportunity to see saddleback/tieke, kakariki/ red crowned parakeet, little brown kiwi, bellbirds, tui, grey warbler and many species of sea birds.
This is your opportunity to see New Zealand’s wildlife as nature intended it and shows what can be achieved when a concentrated effort on conservation is made, managed and protected.